The Handmaid's Tale, Brave New World, Gattaca

We like having rights, and we like not being genetically engineered or altered. Check out this video on three dystopian works to see why you simply have to agree with us—no dissonance allowed.

AuthorAtwood - Margaret Atwood
Huxley - Aldous Huxley
FormNovel
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureDystopian Literature
World Literature

Transcript

00:28

But what if things were bad for just some people? How does that change your idea of dystopia?

00:33

We don't mean just a randomly selected group of people in Dubuque, however.

00:35

We mean an entire subset of people. People who generally aren't appreciated.

00:36

In The Handmaid's Tale, for example women aren't just pushed aside...

00:38

They're practically stomped on...

00:41

Silenced...

00:42

And used.

00:45

It's a grim vision of what happens when laws that take away rights go into effect.

00:51

The ultra-religious society that rules the world of The Handmaid's Tale have basically

00:54

turned women into prisoners and slaves, who are only valued for their procreation abilities.

01:05

Plus, the clothes aren't flattering at all.

01:09

Brave New World is a little different. Aldous Huxley's world has a place for everyone,

01:13

and everyone is in their place.

01:16

The idiots do the hard labor while the upper class play mini-golf all day.

01:23

What sets it apart from other dystopias, though, is that the people were bred this way.

01:29

They were genetically engineered to fit into the right caste, so they don't know any better.

01:35

Which means that the reader is forced to ask some deep questions.

01:40

If a person doesn't know that they're being horribly oppressed...if they actually

01:44

enjoy their terrible position in life...

01:47

...are they even being oppressed?

01:49

For example, would the ladies of the Handmaid's Tale be better off if they were genetically

01:52

engineered to enjoy a complete lack of freedom?

01:57

The 1997 film, Gattaca, brings Huxley's genetic concerns into the modern era.

02:02

Born out of the cotemporary concerns over genetic testing, the movie is set in a futuristic

02:07

world where most babies are tested for undesirable traits

02:11

and receive genetic tune-ups before they're born.

02:14

The main character, Vincent Freeman...

02:20

...a guy whose parents dared to bring him into the world the old fashioned way--without

02:24

any genetic tampering at all.

02:27

As a result, Vincent experiences tons of discrimination throughout his life and is forced to assume

02:32

a false identity to pursue his dream of being an astronaut.

02:37

Like the best dystopian novels out there, Gattaca forces us to ask questions.

02:44

Sure, it might be nice to get rid of certain disease-causing genetic defects, but what

02:49

is the cost of knowing too much?

02:52

What would we miss out on if certain traits were just deleted from the human genome?

02:59

If everyone becomes exceptional, then exceptional ceases to exist, and everyone is just plain boring.

03:04

...and maybe more than a little creepy?